Karl Beckwith Smith Jr., 89
Karl Beckwith Smith Jr., 89, of Jamestown, founder of the town’s annual Fools’ Rules Regatta, passed away Jan. 28, 2006 on Sanibel Island, Fla., just two weeks shy of his 90th birthday. He is widely recognized to have been the longest living survivor of
insulin-dependent diabetes. In 1922, he was among the earliest recipients of this life-saving drug. He held a lifelong belief that tight control of blood sugar levels would diminish the complications of diabetes and, for him this was the case, as his long and active life attests.
Mr. Smith was born on Feb. 13, 1916 in New
York City. After a youth spent in New York City, the
Hudson Valley, and Long Island, he graduated from St. Paul’s School and Princeton University, Class of 1939, where he excelled at baseball, squash, and hockey.
During World War II, he served as an engineer and civilian technician with the U.S. Navy. He worked to develop cooling systems for aircraft engines and invented a self-locking nut. He was employed by Wright Aeronautical and General Motors Corporation.
Mr. Smith was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars, St. Nicholas Society, Racquet and Tennis Club of NY, a former Commodore of the Conanicut Yacht Club of Jamestown, R.I., and Founder of the Fool’s Rules Regatta, a major community event in Jamestown for over 20 years.
For most of his life, he designed and built from raw materials high speed miniature steam engines. He raced stock cars and hydroplanes, winning numerous trophies. He hunted, fly-fished, was a gunsmith, and motorcycle, model railroad, dog and wild bird enthusiast.
This talented, generous, and kind man will be sorely missed by his wife of 33 years, Diana Lanier Smith, and his children by his first marriage to the late Barbara Conger. They are his son, Karl B. Smith III; two daughters, Beverly S. Zimmer and Barbara S. Desilets. Mr. Smith also leaves five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Plans for a memorial service in Jamestown will be announced at a later date.